As most stories go with why I sign up for things, so there was this free giveaway…
Wednesday last week, I received an email from REI that if you complete a Women’s #ForceOfNature event the coming weekend, you will get this free bandana. Oh snaps. Dreamy. I wanted it.
Quickly scanned the REI events calendar and found a 10k I could run in Coyote Hills, which is relatively close to where I live. Ok yes, I’m also aware that signing up for a $25 race isn’t exactly getting the bandana for free, but since I signed up for the San Francisco half marathon and haven’t been training whatsoever, I figured this was a good opportunity to hit two birds with one stone for “thevalue”.
Briefly studied the course the night before noting that the elevation change would only be 200ft max along the course, and also made sure I charged my bluetooth headphones, since the last trail run I did I completed sans content, as I was out of batteries within the first 3 minutes. Running without music or a podcast makes any journey seem way longer.
Morning of I made sure to have half a Luna bar and some Gatorade during my drive over to keep my sugar and electrolytes start at an overall positive. I don’t run into a sugar low at mile 3 which always happens when I don’t eat before a race. I know they have those Stinger gels at each pitstop, but I hate the way they taste. For my dress for success outfit today I had compression socks set, run shorts, and a light Nike top. I brought a light running jacket and my Apple Watch, but I end up wishing I just left these items in the car since Strava somehow ended up being unpaired from the watch and the jacket got in my way while running, yet I didn’t want to toss it on the trail. During the race I ended up stopping frequently to walk and tie the jacket around my waist since it kept coming undone.
At the start they gave a brief welcome, allowed us to grab swag, and then we were off. Had trouble getting Strava started, but managed a slow jog while figuring it out. The first portion of the race was relatively flat and beautiful. I slowed to take some snaps. As I ran by, I remembered how in 2008 Ryan and I had stopped by this area for a photo walk. Back then this area was in a drought and the ground was dry and crackly, but now was teeming with liquid life.
Soon we hit the beginning of the rolling gradual hills. I kept pace behind a couple women until the 5k/10k split. Sadly all the women I trailed turned to complete the 5k and I was left with very few ladies in front of me for the 10k. Continuing on, I saw the leader of the 10k already double back on the loop and as she passed she cheered me on, which I ended up paying forward for all the ladies I saw after I completed the loop. This is why I love races more than just running daily on a trail, it’s the community and spirit that we’re in it together that fuels me on.
In the mile 4 I’m transported back in time again to when Carol and I did a photowalk in this part of the trail. At the time we walked over a snake and didn’t even realize it until other people behind us gasped upon seeing it, then we turned around and went to take some photos of it.
With the nostalgia of the photowalks making me smile, I thought to myself that it’s funny how sometimes places have metadata that you don’t even remember until you revisit it.
Mile 6 was a reverse back up the hill to the finish, as we passed some campers and their children hauling their items back to the parking lot they all cheered us on “You’ve got this.” “Even pacing now!” I smiled at the kids who turned to watch us run by, and just like that even though I thought there might be more trail I turn the corner to see the finish line, far sooner than expected. Then at the end they gave out trucker hats to commemorate the trail run. Extra swag? And a trucker hat no less? My heart is too full to contain itself.
Made sure to stretch in the park after since I hadn’t done so post the Star Wars Run, whereby my IT band was wrecked for an entire month. Overall I completed the race in an average of around 11:08, which was slow but good enough for having not run since January, and ended up not being sore at all in the couple days after. I credit all the cardio boxing for keeping me in good shape till now.
Mileage: 6.1 miles
Max Elevation Gain: 200 ft
Met Along The Way: @cahrowline – Who found me on Instagram, but didn’t know she was one of my secret pacers along the way.
Next up: SF Half Marathon – Golden Gate! I will finally run over you. I’m so excited, it’s been on my bucket list forever.